Newcastle country star Grayson presses play on next album

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

NEW PHASE: Grayson started recording his fifth album Window Dreams last week.GRAYSON jokes his baby son Hunter had visited 14 US states by the time he was 10 weeks old.That’s the life of a travelling musician, come family man.
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Ten months ago Grayson, aka Newcastle country musician Michael Edser, and his Gunnedah bred-wife Brianna (nee MacKellar) welcomed their first baby in Nashville.

“It’s the best thing in the world and also the hardest thing in the world,” Grayson tellsWeekenderfrom Nashville.

“We literally didn’t have time to record with touring and not sleeping with a brand new baby.”

It meant plans for Grayson’s long-awaited fifth album were postponed. Finally last week he pressed play onWindow Dreams, which is expected to be released later this year.

“It’ll be a bit different to the last couple of songs I’ve released,” he says.“A little more stripped back and a little more real.”

Window Dreamswill feature nine tracks that Grayson wrote with American country star Jeff Wood, who has previously written songs for Neal McCoyandPhil Vassar.

In the meantime, Grayson has given fans a sugarypop single that is unashamedly written for US country commercialradio, much like his previous single10-9-8-7that topped theUSNew Music Weekly Country Charts in 2016.

Margaritawas inspired by a three-day hangover that refused to dissipate.The culprit? Taco Tuesday and a lot of tequila-packed margaritas.

“Every Tuesday night I go out for Taco Tuesday, I eat tacos and drink a shitload of margaritas,” Grayson says.“The wife hates it, as every Wednesday I’m hungover as all hell.”

Over the summer Grayson returned to Newcastle to introduce Hunter to his family, play shows and filmMargarita’svideo clip at Redhead and Dudley beaches.

Grayson loved the experience of returning to the beaches where he first learnt to surf, but it created some curious scenes for locals who didn’t realise a country music video was beginning filmed.

Grayson – Margarita“We used drones, which are a great technology, and the guys who manned them werein the bushes,” he says.“So I must have looked like an absolute tool standing on the beach with no cameras around.

“People would have been thinking, ‘what the hell is this guydoing, it’s 5.30 in the morning and he’s singing to himself’. The end product is good and it’s worth the embarrassment.”

Over the past six months Grayson has watched with pride as his“gym buddy” and fellow Novocastrian Morgan Evans hasbecome a breakout country pop-star with his singleKiss Somebody.

“He actually stayed on our couch for the first month he lived over here,” Grayson says.“I went to his wedding in Mexico last year with [US country star]Kelsea [Ballerini], so as a friend, a mentor, and a fellow musician it’s awesome that he’s kicking goals, because nobody works as hard as him.”

Grayson has also been workinghard to crack the lucrative Nashville scene. Since 2011, in fact. But as a new father he admitshis career aspirations are beingre-evaluated.

“If you’re serious about your career you’ve got to be here,” he says.“We’ll see how this album goes and Hunter is only 10 months old. The way the world is going right now I don’t want him growing up in schools here, there’s scary stuff happening.

“The next couple of years are make or break, regardless of whether I’m kicking goals, I’d love to come back home.

“I’m a proud Novocastrian and always will be. It’s the best and worst part of my job in that I don’t know what’s next.”

A beached cow shows the extent of flood damage to farming, says Bob Katter

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

Bob Katter MP, Shane Knuth MP, with Mission Beach Surf Life Saving Club members Dyana Brown and Shane Gee with the cow carcass. Photo credit – Anne Pleash.INDEPENDENT federal Queensland MP Bob Katter and his party’s state MP Shane Knuth say a cow thatdiscovered washed ashore at Mission Beach provides a graphic illustration of the damage done by recent flood waters.
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“We’ll never know the full damage but I’d say it’s around $20 million worth when you tally up crops, stock losses, property damage, machinery etc,” Mr Katter said in a statement today.

“We can’t stop them but in the instance of little ones (floods) where if we’d been able to take away a foot or more by going ahead with the North Johnston Transfer it would have helped prevent a lot of damage.”

The recent flooding in North Queensland due to torrential rain saw the worst conditions experienced since the 2010 floods which caused billions of dollars in damage and resulted in the federal government introducing a flood-levy to aid relief efforts.

An area between Townsville and Cairns was declared a disaster zone by the state government due to the recent flooding event, with sugar cane and banana crops caught up in the damage, as well as emergency evacuations.

Farmers have suffered heavy losses due to flooded paddocks and crops – but on Friday AgForce said a few days of good falls are not enough to break a drought that had lasted more than half a decade in many parts of the state.

AgForce North Queensland Regional President Russell Lethbridge said many regional and rural communities were still doing it very tough.

“The prolonged drought has taken an enormous financial, environmental and emotional toll on farming families right throughout Queensland, with more than two-thirds of the state still drought declared,” he said.

“The recent rain has certainly bought a smile to many faces in rural and regional Queensland, but it has been very patchy and it should not be forgotten that many regions in the west were first drought declared back in early to mid-2013, so it’s a long road to recovery.

“The ongoing nature of this drought has overwhelmed even the best efforts of producers to prepare and has been compounded by other challenges such as the kneejerk live export ban in 2011 and continued uncertainty around vegetation management regulations.

“The drought assistance and support measures provided by the State and Federal Governments are very welcome, but are really designed to assist people through a drought that lasts two to three years, whereas many producers are now facing their sixth year with severe rainfall deficits.”

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Chinan order surprised by allegations against Chinan-ordained priest in Papua New Guinea

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By , 17/12/2018 16:22

Investigation: Papua New Guinea Vincentian Bishop Rolando Santos and n-ordained priest Neil Lams in PNG where police have investigated “touching” allegations against Father Lams.
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THE head of the Vincentians order in said he had no control over an n-ordained Vincentian priest under police investigation for “touching” allegations in Papua New Guinea.

Vincentians Oceania head Father Greg Brett said he was unaware of the police investigation because Father Neil Lams was under the control of the bishops of Papua New Guinea, and not the Vincentians. He had been assured by a PNG bishop that two church investigations relating to Father Lams had been finalised in the priest’s favour. Father Lams was ordained in in 2011 and volunteered to work in Vincentian missions after two years.

Father Brett said he was advised he would receive a church investigation report but by Wednesday had not received it. A copy of an interim investigation report was supplied to the Newcastle Herald by Alotau Bishop Rolando Santos in September.

The interim report confirmed at least two teenage students at a school “frequented” the priest’s nearby home, but it found there was no sexual abuse. The interim church investigation report found the priest’s “slapping the cheeks or laps” of students during confession was “inappropriate”.

Father Brett said any touching was a breach of the order’s code of conduct and was unacceptable, but he was not aware of the report’s contents.

“The rules of confession are very strong,” he said.

Allegations against Father Lams were reported to Papua New Guinea police in September by Port Stephens woman Wendy Stein after meeting a school delegation during her work in PNG running family planning services sponsored by Rotary.

This week she joined Hunter survivor of Catholic paedophile priest Anthea Halpin, and Hunter survivor advocate Peter Gogarty, in calling on the n Catholic Church leadership to take responsibility for the legacy issues of decades of transferring priests and religious brothers to overseas missions after child sex allegations in . They have written to the church calling for an audit of all priests and religious sent overseas after n allegations.

Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said the church had to “deal with” the legacy issues of its overseas transfers and “at the very least, put in place clear policies and procedures to respond to overseas survivors with compassion and justice”.

PNG police commander Andrew Weda on Tuesday said he would meet with investigating police this week to discuss the Father Lams case.

In February the administrator of Milne Bay province in PNG wrote to police investigating allegations against Father Lams instructing them to “ensure that a full investigation has been carried out by the police force who are the mandated agency to ensure that law and order is enforced”.

In his letter administrator Michael Kape confirmed the Division of Education had held a separate investigation into allegations against the priest.

“As much as possible we want to ensure that the children of Milne Bay are being taught in safe and conducive institutions andenvironments,” Mr Kape said.

AFL exile about to end for de Goey at Pies

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By , 18/08/2019 10:50

Collingwood midfielder Jordan De Goey’s AFL exile is about to end.Jordan De Goey’s AFL exile will end next Monday as the Collingwood bad boy continues his push for a return to senior football.
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Magpies captain Scott Pendlebury said he and other club leaders have stayed in touch with De Goey during his club suspension.

The midfielder has trained with Collingwood’s VFL squad and worked during the day in landscaping after last month’s drink driving offence.

A hamstring injury has complicated De Goey’s AFL return and he is definitely sidelined for round one.

“From all reports, he is going well,” Pendlebury said.

“The training he’s been doing with the VFL was really good until he hurt that hammy.

“From all reports he’s going really well and I think I’ve said it before, we know that footy’s not the issue – he does that really well.

“We’re just trying to teach him some life lessons … you don’t want to baby him, but you keep in touch, make sure he’s going okay.”

De Goey’s off-field drama has added to a challenging off-season for the Magpies, who have also managed several injuries to key players.

But Pendlebury said the squad is in good shape and they will have 28 players vying for selection ahead of their round-one game against Hawthorn.

“That’s probably the excitement for me, I’m not sure who’s playing round one,” he said.

Pendlebury added newly re-signed coach Nathan Buckley had made some lifestyle changes, but otherwise is much the same man he has worked with for 15 years.

“Bucks is doing a lot more yoga this year, so I think that’s changed in his approach, and he’s dropped a little bit of weight – I don’t know if that’s helped him relax,” Pendlebury said.

“This is all serious.

“But in terms of his coaching, it’s very much the same … maybe the yoga has been good for him.

“He’s been great, he’s been a rock for the whole football club.”

While Collingwood finished 13th last year, their biggest losing margin was only 37 points.

Their finals hopes were cruelled by a 2-6 start to the season.

“We were happy with the way we were playing, we just couldn’t finish off our work,” he said of their errant goalkicking, a big weakness last year.

“Everything was holding up really well, but then I think the guys got a little caught up with looking at the ladder.”

One big potential gain is Darcy Moore switching from attack to defence.

“He looked really good down back and Tommy Langdon – another one, a bit of a forgotten player,” Pendlebury said.

“Darcy, Howey (Jeremy Howe) – it’s a pretty strong half-back line that can take marks and fly for the ball.”

Newcastle Knights utility Connor Watson braces for heavy traffic in Canberra.

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By , 18/08/2019 10:50

HE isNewcastle’ssmallest player, and livewire utility Connor Watson expects to be targeted in defence by Canberra’s heavyweights during Sunday’s showdown at GIO Stadium.
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One of four former Roosters to join the Knights in the off-season, Watson has been named to start his second successive match at five-eighth, but the selection of Brock Lamb on Newcastle’s bench ensures they are likely to again share the pivot role.

TOUGH: Connor Watson

In last week’s 19-18 win against Manly, Watson deputised as a stopgap dummy-half during Slade Griffin’s 11-minute breather in the second half, which meant he had to defend in the middle of the ruck.

At 176 centimeteres and 87 kilograms, he will be dwarfed on Sunday by Raiders front-rowers Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo, who each outweigh him by more than 30 kilograms.

Given that he missed six of the 22 tackles he attempted against Manly, Watson’s name is likely to feature prominently in Canberra’s game plan.

But the 21-year-old has no qualms about competing outside his weight division.

“Being a little bloke, you have to make most of tackles because they see the height difference in the line and run at you,” Watsonsaid on Thursday. “Every time I’ve played hooker, I’ve been run at a fair bit. But it’s NRL, it’s first grade.

“You can’t really hide out there in any position. Whether you’re playing [hooker] or on the wing, you’re still going to have to make tackles.”

Watson said that in some regards, he found it easierdealing with the heavy traffic he will encounter around the rucks.

“Defending in the middle is not too bad, because you’re defending with other people,” he said. “You defend as a group, whereas if you defend on the edge, you have to make a lot of one-on-one tackles, which is a bit harder.

“So when those big blokes are coming at you, you’ve got a bloke either side of you, coming to help.

“That helps being at [hooker].”

Watson was promised first shot at the five-eighth role when he signed for Newcastle but it now appears he might be asked to fill a variety of positions, as was the case during his 38 games with the Roosters.

As well as his brief stint at hooker against Manly, he also filled in at centre when Sione Mata’utia suffered cramp.

“I’m starting there [at five-eighth], and that’s what I wanted to do, is start in that jumper,” he said.“But for the team’s sake, if I need to move into [hooker] for a period of time, well I’m happy to do that.”

Knights coach Nathan Brown was unsure if Lamb would receive more game time this week, after a 23-minute cameo against Manly.

But he was pleased with how Lamb, Watson and skipper Mitchell Pearce combined when they were on the field together.

“I’m not sure if we got it perfect when we used him [Lamb] or not, and just because we won the game, I don’t think that highlights whether we did or didn’t,” he said.“But he certainly was good when he was out there.

“Connor certainly did well when he was there. He’s a very different player [to Lamb], obviously …in an ideal world, a little bit more time [for Lamb] would probably be perfect.

“How it unfolds, I’m not too sure.

“But Brock on the field and Connor on the field, those guys all on there together, certainly seems to make us a formidable team.”

Meanwhile, rugged back-rower Luke Yates appears the likely candidate to come onto Newcastle’s bench rotation ifco-captain Jamie Buhrer is ruled out.

Brown said Buhrer suffered“a knock” against Manly, although he was hopeful of making the trip to Canberra.

Yates appeared to be on standby at training on Thursday.

The 23-year-old local junior, who played in 19 NRL games for Newcastle last season, has been named in jumper No.21 but it would be no surprise if he featured in the game-day17.

The Knights will train again on Saturday before boarding a chartered flight to the national capital.

Our FutureEarth Hour turns on solidarity

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By , 18/08/2019 10:50

Just like the tip of the iceberg, the annual Earth Hour, celebrated this year on March 24 is but a tiny temporal sliver of the far-reaching environmental and social impacts of the projects buoyed up by the Earth Hour pledges and donations.
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This unique fund-raising activity began in Sydney in 2007 as a way of focusing on the effects of global warming and climate change, and is now a worldwide open source movement under the umbrella of the World Wildlife Federation.

Indeed more than 180 countries will turn off their lights in solidarity, and grassroots people like you and me will raise funds to protect the only planet we have.

In 2014, an alliance of organisations campaigned under Earth Hour’s banner to raise awareness of the impacts of disposable plastic bags in the Galapagos. By the end of the year, the government passed a resolution to ban plastic bags from the Islands. One day I hope that I can journey to see these animals made so famous by Charles Darwin.

However, the project that touched me most was the ongoing partnership with Solar Buddy. In 2017, Earth Hour collaborated with Solar Buddy to provide 500 portable lights to rural communities in Ethiopia.

Charged by the sun, they provide many hours of light to help students in-need with their studies, as well as replacing carbon-intensive kerosene lamps. In 2018, the program will support communities in Papua New Guinea.

I hope you turn off your lights for an hour from 8.30pm on Saturday in solidarity with the Earth and that you move your dollars in support, particularly in view of the recent devastation wreaked by the earthquakes in the PNG Highlands. An area so remote that villagers have to walk for two days to reach a made road.

Professor Tim Roberts is the director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle

NSW Waratahs pack to stand up to Rebels

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By , 18/08/2019 10:50

Israel Folau says the NSW forwards must match the Rebels’ heavyweight pack.NSW’s smarting pack craves redemption after being challenged to stand up to the Melbourne Rebels in Sunday’s Super Rugby derby in Sydney.
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The Waratahs return to Allianz Stadium with tails between their legs following an insipid loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires and draw with the Sharks in Durban.

The game in Argentina was over before quarter-time after the Tahs conceded four tries before the break, prompting attacking trump Israel Folau to throw down the gauntlet to his forwards.

Folau says the NSW forwards must match the Rebels’ heavyweight pack.

“The game has to be won up front,” said ‘s three-time John Eales Medallist.

“They’ve got a big pack so we need go-forward and we need to get over the gain line.”

Lock Tom Staniforth, who will reunite with returning Wallabies second-rower Rob Simmons, knows the heat is on – but insists that’s nothing new.

He’s promising that the likes of Folau, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley get more front-foot ball against ‘s unbeaten conference leaders.

“There’s always pressure. There’s pressure if you play club footy to deliver to the backs,” Staniforth said.

“There’s pressure if you play Super Rugby. That’s our jobs; to deliver them clean ball.

“If you watched the (last) game, we probably fell short a little bit.

“But it’s round three. We’re trying to improve, we’re trying to bring that 100 per cent sort of perfect to the Tahs and we’ll eventually achieve that.”

Staniforth knows the Rebels will be aggressive, and also expects niggle.

“That’s why we play, isn’t it?. We enjoy that confrontational battle and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.

“Obviously they play like that and that’s what makes rugby so good and that we get to have these contests.”

Despite already trailing the Rebels by nine competition points, the Waratahs are refusing to panic ahead of their first conference clash of the season.

“I think we’re building,” Staniforth said.

“We’re three games into the competition, we’re learning combinations. We’re learning to know each other.

“If you’re peaking for round three, obviously you’re not going to be peaking for the grand final or the finals.”

Brumbies swing Super Rugby axe for Sharks

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By , 18/08/2019 10:50

Blake Enever has a chance to make a statement in the Brumbies’ Super Rugby clash with the Sharks.The Brumbies have swung the axe by making six changes as they look to turn around their Super Rugby season against the Sharks.
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Henry Speight is the only back-three player from the Melbourne Rebels loss to retain his spot for Saturday night’s match, with Andy Muirhead and Tevita Kuridrani coming into the starting XV.

Co-captain Sam Carter (concussion) and veteran Josh Mann-Rea (hamstring) are crucial forced changes through injury.

Two-Test Wallaby Blake Enever comes straight in for Carter at No.5 to partner Rory Arnold, while Tom Cusack replaces Lolo Fakaosilea at openside flanker.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said Enever had the chance to make a statement after being left out of the squads for two of the opening three games.

“I’ve really admired Blake’s attitude during a difficult period for him – after playing at Murrayfield and Twickenham (for the Wallabies) and then having to get a bus to Albury for four hours to play a (Brumbies) Runners game,” McKellar said.

Other notable changes are co-captain Christian Lealiifano moving to inside centre to pair up with Wharenui Hawera, with Kyle Godwin cut from the squad.

Fullback Tom Banks, who has been touted as a future Wallaby, has been moved to the bench with Muirhead starting in the No.15 jersey.

Hooker Connal McInerney is on the bench for his Brumbies debut, while James Dargaville and Nic Mayhew are in for their first games of the season.

“I’ve picked a team this week that is all about the team performance, and not so much on individual performance,” McKellar said.

“It’s what I think will allow us to take the opportunities that we’re creating.

“Are we in trouble? You don’t want to be 1-3, but we’d much rather get a really good result in front of our fans and turn around our record at home, which has been around 50 per cent in recent years.”

BRUMBIES:

Andy Muirhead, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Lausil Taliauli, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Tom Cusack, Lachlan McCaffrey, Blake Enever, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio.

Res:

Connal McInerney, Nic Mayhew, Leslie Leuluaialli-Makin, Richie Arnold, Lolo Fakaosilea, Matt Lucas, James Dargaville, Tom Banks.

Peterson beats Andrew in Roxy Pro final

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By , 18/07/2019 16:35

Up-and-coming Aussie Keely Andrew will contest her second World Surf League final on the Gold Coast. US surfer Lakey Peterson bested n Keely Andrew to win the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast.
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American Lakey Peterson has upstaged up-and-coming n surfer Keely Andrew for a commanding win in the Roxy Pro final.

Victory for Peterson never looked in doubt on Thursday as she produced two big scores early in the heat, leaving it all for Andrew to do at Kirra Point.

The 23-year-old Peterson succumbed to Stephanie Gilmore in last year’s Roxy Pro decider but now has her World Surf League season off to the perfect start.

Peterson scored 8.00 and 7.67 in her first two rides, and the best Mooloolaba young gun Andrew could do in response was 3.50 and 2.17.

It is Peterson’s second major title and snaps a long drought, with her last win coming at the US Open of Surfing back in 2012 – her debut year on tour.

The manner of her performance suggests the Santa Barbara product is in line for further honours this season.

“I feel like I’ve been working for seven years to get another win,” Peterson said.

“(Now that it’s) finally happened, it’s super surreal.

“It’s hard. It beats you down if you don’t ever win something and it’s been a while.”

The win also nets Peterson the world No.1 ranking for the first time in a career which has long shown promise but hasn’t reached its fullest potential due to injuries, a lack of consistency and repeated failures deep in other events.

She said she’d learned the key to success, as illogical as it sounded, was to stop worrying about results.

“I feel like I’ve finally come to a point in my life and with my surfing where I just really want to enjoy it,” Peterson said.

“For so long, as funny as it sounds, it was so result-based and I wasn’t winning.

“When I was able to let go and just work on myself and learn from every opportunity… that’s a win for me.

“To have this result follow that speaks volumes and I’m really excited to carry it through the rest of the year.”

Andrew, meanwhile, is still searching for her first WSL title, having also lost last year’s Trestles Pro final in California to Brazil’s Silvana Lima.

However, the 23-year-old will draw confidence from her semi-final victory over Sally Fitzgibbons – her second major scalp in a row, having knocked out Gilmore in the quarters.

Newcastle council’s move discussed at Property Council lunch

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By , 18/07/2019 16:35

Colliers International real estate agent Peter Macadam. Picture: Max Mason HubersNEWCASTLE City Council’s proposed move to the Gateway Two building going up at Newcastle West will be a major topic of discussion at a Property Council lunch at City Hall on Friday.
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Newcastle Lord Mayor NuataliNelmes and property figures including Colliers International agent Peter Macadam will discuss the historic move, which was announced in December.

Mr Macadam said the council’s commitment wascritical to that building going ahead, because it was very difficult for developers to get project finance without having tenants signed up to leases.

On the council’s intention to leave its Civic home, Mr Macadam said it often made sense for businesses“from a cash flow perspective” to get their properties“off their balance sheet and not have to pay for maintenance costs”.

“They would normally sell their property and reinvest the money in the business,” Mr Macadam said.

He doubted the roundhouse would be used for commercial purposes after the council moved out, saying the building was“too inefficient”.

With the city’s older commercial spaces often unsuitable for modern business needs, Mr Macadam said new, high-quality office space was critical to attracting big new businesses to Newcastle.

The lunch will also hear about the state of the CBD office market, witha Property Council survey putting Newcastle’s January vacancy rate at 9 per cent, an improvement on the 10.3 per cent figure recorded six months before.

The all-important A-grade vacancy rate had fallen from 8.6 per cent in July 2017 to 6.8 per cent in January.

Although the Newcastle vacancy rate was effectively twice the Sydney CBD rate of 4.6 per cent, Mr Macadam said Newcastle was competing with non-CBD areas such as Parramatta and the Gold Coast when it came to attracting business tenants.

Office vacancy rates from the Property Council’s latest survey.

He said Newcastle had “a massive advantage” over Parramatta in that rents were lower, and businesses could attract employees by pointing to the city’s obvious urban renewal and the Hunter’s more laid-back lifestyle.

Newcastle was midway in a measure of 15 non-CBD markets, with a higher office vacancy ratethan Parramatta, Chatswood and North Sydney, but a lower ratethan Wollongong, St Leonards, the Brisbane fringe and the Sunshine Coast.

NSW Waratahs pack to stand up to Rebels

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By , 18/07/2019 16:30

Israel Folau says the NSW forwards must match the Rebels’ heavyweight pack.NSW’s smarting pack craves redemption after being challenged to stand up to the Melbourne Rebels in Sunday’s Super Rugby derby in Sydney.
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The Waratahs return to Allianz Stadium with tails between their legs following an insipid loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires and draw with the Sharks in Durban.

The game in Argentina was over before quarter-time after the Tahs conceded four tries before the break, prompting attacking trump Israel Folau to throw down the gauntlet to his forwards.

Folau says the NSW forwards must match the Rebels’ heavyweight pack.

“The game has to be won up front,” said ‘s three-time John Eales Medallist.

“They’ve got a big pack so we need go-forward and we need to get over the gain line.”

Lock Tom Staniforth, who will reunite with returning Wallabies second-rower Rob Simmons, knows the heat is on – but insists that’s nothing new.

He’s promising that the likes of Folau, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley get more front-foot ball against ‘s unbeaten conference leaders.

“There’s always pressure. There’s pressure if you play club footy to deliver to the backs,” Staniforth said.

“There’s pressure if you play Super Rugby. That’s our jobs; to deliver them clean ball.

“If you watched the (last) game, we probably fell short a little bit.

“But it’s round three. We’re trying to improve, we’re trying to bring that 100 per cent sort of perfect to the Tahs and we’ll eventually achieve that.”

Staniforth knows the Rebels will be aggressive, and also expects niggle.

“That’s why we play, isn’t it?. We enjoy that confrontational battle and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.

“Obviously they play like that and that’s what makes rugby so good and that we get to have these contests.”

Despite already trailing the Rebels by nine competition points, the Waratahs are refusing to panic ahead of their first conference clash of the season.

“I think we’re building,” Staniforth said.

“We’re three games into the competition, we’re learning combinations. We’re learning to know each other.

“If you’re peaking for round three, obviously you’re not going to be peaking for the grand final or the finals.”

Judge me on my NRL defence: whiz kid Ponga

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By , 18/07/2019 16:30

Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga wants more recognition of his NRL defensive grit.He’s been hailed for his attacking brilliance but Newcastle sensation Kalyn Ponga wants to be recognised just as much for his NRL defensive grit.
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Just like Billy Slater and other great fullbacks, Ponga says he puts more emphasis on saving tries than scoring them.

Many baulked at the Knights’ decision to offer the the livewire Queenslander $700,000 a year and their attempt to rebuild the club around a 19-year-old.

But after one appearance for the Knights, he’s already shaping as a sound investment after prising open the Manly defence numerous times in last week’s season opener.

He finished with one try, one line break, 104 metres and was already being speculated about as a future State of Origin star.

But while he’s happy to do the flashy stuff, he says it’s keeping the opposition out – such as his desperate try-saving tackle on Akuila Uate – which gives him the most satisfaction.

“All the great fullbacks (defence) is the strong point of their games,” Ponga said.

“Guys like Billy Slater – as a fullback, that’s my role. It’s something I really want to work on.

“(Coach Nathan Brown) is into me about it; my old coach (North Queensland’s Paul Green) was into me about it as well.

“It’s something I really want to improve.”

If Ponga is under pressure to deliver at the Knights, he seemed oblivious and shrugged off suggestions he came into his first Knights pre-season being weighed down by expectation.

“People keep saying that, I don’t know why,” Ponga said.

“Pre-season is pre-season. It’s pretty hard. Everyone’s getting themselves fit for round one and that’s what we did.

“A lot of combinations were made, which we’re still working on.”

Brumbies swing Super Rugby axe for Sharks

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By , 18/07/2019 16:25

Blake Enever has a chance to make a statement in the Brumbies’ Super Rugby clash with the Sharks.The Brumbies have swung the axe by making six changes as they look to turn around their Super Rugby season against the Sharks.
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Henry Speight is the only back-three player from the Melbourne Rebels loss to retain his spot for Saturday night’s match, with Andy Muirhead and Tevita Kuridrani coming into the starting XV.

Co-captain Sam Carter (concussion) and veteran Josh Mann-Rea (hamstring) are crucial forced changes through injury.

Two-Test Wallaby Blake Enever comes straight in for Carter at No.5 to partner Rory Arnold, while Tom Cusack replaces Lolo Fakaosilea at openside flanker.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said Enever had the chance to make a statement after being left out of the squads for two of the opening three games.

“I’ve really admired Blake’s attitude during a difficult period for him – after playing at Murrayfield and Twickenham (for the Wallabies) and then having to get a bus to Albury for four hours to play a (Brumbies) Runners game,” McKellar said.

Other notable changes are co-captain Christian Lealiifano moving to inside centre to pair up with Wharenui Hawera, with Kyle Godwin cut from the squad.

Fullback Tom Banks, who has been touted as a future Wallaby, has been moved to the bench with Muirhead starting in the No.15 jersey.

Hooker Connal McInerney is on the bench for his Brumbies debut, while James Dargaville and Nic Mayhew are in for their first games of the season.

“I’ve picked a team this week that is all about the team performance, and not so much on individual performance,” McKellar said.

“It’s what I think will allow us to take the opportunities that we’re creating.

“Are we in trouble? You don’t want to be 1-3, but we’d much rather get a really good result in front of our fans and turn around our record at home, which has been around 50 per cent in recent years.”

BRUMBIES:

Andy Muirhead, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Lausil Taliauli, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Tom Cusack, Lachlan McCaffrey, Blake Enever, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio.

Res:

Connal McInerney, Nic Mayhew, Leslie Leuluaialli-Makin, Richie Arnold, Lolo Fakaosilea, Matt Lucas, James Dargaville, Tom Banks.

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